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Gilbert Perez dreams of the day when thousands of Canadians with disabilities take up competitive chess.

Perez, a retired doctor who lives in Brandon, Man., was the only Canadian to compete in last year’s World Chess Championship for People with Disabilities. People with physical, vision or hearing impairments from 44 countries competed online, and he finished 63rd in a field of 249 players.

It was his second time competing in the international event, and he says the online format made it easier for many people to take part.

“Chess is a game where people with disabilities can beat people without disabilities,” he says. For people who are isolated or sometimes bullied, it’s a good way to make friends and socialize.

Perez contracted polio in his native Philippines when he was two, and he spends most of his time in a wheelchair. He has also lost vision in one eye. But he says chess puts him on a level playing field, and even severely disabled people can compete successfully.

Last year’s world championship was the first where blind players could play without any physical or virtual assistance.

Before the pandemic, he taught chess to kids in schools, and he hopes to resume his teaching and coaching as soon as conditions allow.

Sargis Sargissyan v Tobias Voege, Titled Tuesday, 2022

Handout

White, the current world disabled champion, won this game after Nf7+. But can you spot a White move that would have forced mate in 3?

There is a forced mate after 1. Qe7, threatening Rf8+ and mate.